On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown issued a comprehensive Executive Order addressing myriad issues surrounding the health of California’s forest lands in the wake of years of disastrous, high severity wildfires and the resulting increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Executive Order directs various State agencies to increase efforts on a number of components impacting the California’s forest health, including:
- Increasing active management of State and private forest lands through a combination of vegetation thinning, controlled fires and reforestation from 250,000 acres to 500,000 acres.
- New training and certification programs for forest management through prescribed burning.
- Enhanced education and outreach efforts to private landowners on the most effective ways to reduce wildfire fuels on private lands.
- Streamlined permitting for landowner-initiated projects that improve forest health and reduce wildfire fuels on their properties.
- Supporting and promoting innovative wood products usage by the building industry.
- Expanding incentives such as grants and training to improve forested watersheds.
The Governor also indicated inclusion of a $96 million budget allocation in his 2018-19 May Budget Revision to support the actions in the order. The proposed allocation, which would come from various funding sources, is in addition to the Governor’s January proposal allocating $160 million to forest health programs from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
The Governor also announced the release of the final Forest Carbon Plan, which will serve as a roadmap for many of the State’s actions carrying out the Executive Order, as well as a new Forest Management Task Force, which will be convened in the coming weeks. RCRC has been involved in both the development of the Forest Carbon Plan and an active member of the Tree Mortality Task Force, and will remain engaged as the new task force is formed.